Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Revision, a Culinary Metaphor

It's exam time. Yaaaaaaay!

... I'm just kidding, it's not that bad. That may possibly just be a perk of doing a literature-based course; relatively few exams, and those we have don't seem half so scary after the soul-shredding torment of our summative essays. At least the exam doesn't require six different citations to prove you didn't write the essay on as many drunks as its subject wrote his poems.

Speaking of exams, though, I've never been fond of revision. Lordie knows the last three years of school did not earn my eternal gratitude for swallowing up my holidays and my sanity both.

But those dark days are long behind me, and I have since discovered a benefit to revision.

See, I love reading. So far as I know, so do you - I'd be rather confused as to why you're here if you didn't, given this blog's usual subject matter. Good thing then that my degree consists mostly of reading, then? Ehhh, not so much. See, when you have to read half a hundredweight of poems, half a book of poetry, and then a heaping spoonful of bloated critical commentary every week, you don't get a lot of time to enjoy what you read. Even if you do find you love all of that week's subject matter to death - rare, but possible - the speed at which you are required to devour, digest, regurgitate, and hurriedly reconstruct it for your seminars (and, later, for those aforementioned horrible essays), is a little too rushed and clinical to amount an experience as pleasurable as an ordinary reading pace, where one has time to savour each bite.

In short, reading for seminars and essays is like bolting down your half-cooked breakfast as you make the insane sprint for the bus stop in the pouring rain with your trousers on backwards.

Reading for revision, however, is more like being invited onto Masterchef. Yeah, it's a longer process, and you'll be sick to the back teeth of lime airs and flamb├ęd Mongolian mongoose membrane by the time you're done - but it gives you time to appreciate all the beautiful flavours. And, most of all, it reminds you how good food can be in the first place.

Here, sadly, is where my culinary analogy breaks down slightly - much like the Finalists who still don't know their Foucault from their Fine. But in all sincerity, if you want to be reminded why you enjoy reading, and why the reading you've been given has been picked out over a soupy minestrone sea of competitors, there's nothing like revision to do the trick.

Revision demands a measured pace, close consideration of the work and themes, active engagement with the text, cross-reference between what you've been taught and questions you continue to ask yourself throughout the year. You realise how deep a work is, how much time and work and manic energy went into making it and, most importantly of all, how much you love it. Give it a few hours, and you'll have about sixty different quotes you want to tattoo all over your body, and sixty more around which to base gigantic academic tomes to rival those of Dryden and Milton.

Dark clouds, they say, come with silver linings. Turns out, so do English Lit exams.

~ Charley R

No comments:

Post a Comment